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The Sales Presentation: Talking About Things You’d Rather Not Talk About

Our April 3 blog stressed that your sales presentation should focus on only those benefits which meet the needs of this particular client—  what we call his/herSpecific Benefits.”  Similarly, you should describe only those product/service features (the “what” and the “how”) that enable it to deliver the Specific Benefits.  Ideally, that’s all you’d say.  Since this is what the client really wants and needs, anything else you talk about might bore, distract or antagonize him/her, and maybe even kill the sale.  So, it’s too bad that you could never actually present this way  in the real world.

Of course, sometimes other things must also be discussed, even though their potential harm far outweighs the good.  Examples of such elements include:  legal mandatories, compliance requirements, ethical and “full-disclosure” issues, and excellent product attributes that this particular client  doesn’t seem to care about (perhaps, surprisingly).  Pricing goes here, too (unless you’re low cost provider, and price is actually a selling point).

The challenge posed by this “other stuff” is complicated by your need to present the Specific Benefits early, before the client tunes out­— so you’ll have to deal with these elements near the end of your presentation.  Here are some tips on presenting the “other stuff”:

  • Less is more,” twice.  First, unless you feel compelled to include something, leave it out.  Second, be succinct; use the fewest words necessary to make your points.  Exercise great care in making these decisions.
  • Introduce this section by down-playing it.  Note that the elements that follow are not central to the success of your program.  Use words like “boiler plate,” “housekeeping” or, better, jargon specific to your business which immediately signals mundane but necessary issues.
  • Where appropriate, position an unattractive element as the inevitable but acceptable downside that goes with a powerful Specific Benefit your program offers—  a nuisance that the client will need to put up with in order to reach his/her objectives.
  • Before introducing any positive product feature/benefit that doesn’t connect to a stated client need, you should be very confident that he/she will be enthusiastic about it.  It might be an added selling point, but it certainly risks being a turnoff, too.  Again, when in doubt, leave it out.
  • Consider ending your presentation with a brief summary of the Specific Benefits.  You’ll finish on a high note, get a chance to repeat your best selling points, and remind the client that it’s well worth accepting the “other stuff” elements in a winning effort.

The sale is usually secured during the Specific Benefits presentation;  take special care that you don’t “snatch defeat from the jaws of victory” while discussing the “other stuff.”